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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

The Department of Politics and International Studies is delighted to announce that Dr Niyousha Bastani as the 2023 Lisa Smirl PhD Prize winner.

Every year, the Department of Politics and International Studies offers a prize of £200 for the best PhD completed in the previous academic year. The Prize is named in memory of Lisa Smirl, who gained her PhD in the Department in 2010, but who sadly died of cancer in February 2013. At the end of the academic year, supervisors nominate students who they believe are worthy of the prize. The nominated reports are reviewed by the PhD Director.

Dr Bastani's PhD dissertation, titled 'Subjects of Care: Ethics, Education, Extremism' was the best of the 2022-23 academic year.

The examiners agreed that...

“the PhD made significant contributions to multiple fields of social science, pushing forward interdisciplinary new directions, while also having a firm grounding in social and political theory, postcolonial studies, and the politics of race.”

Her Supervisor was Dr Lauren Wilcox

When asked about winning this year's prize, Dr Bastani said, 

"I am grateful to have received this award named after Dr. Lisa Smirl, whose work speaks to my project in a way I find moving, through a shared interest in how spaces imbued with intentions of care become spaces of harm instead. 
I pursued this research to grapple with how ideas of psychological care and education can justify racist, anti-Muslim and violent counter-extremism policies in public sector institutions, such as higher education institutions, like Cambridge. Through my work, I want to challenge the insidious belief that undergirds such policies, namely, that those harmed by racism should merely build psychological resilience through thinking in better ways about the political conditions they live in. 
I'm very happy to receive this recognition of my dissertation from the Department, and grateful especially to Dr. Lauren Wilcox and Dr. Graham Denyer Willis for their mentorship throughout the project. "

The Department of Politics and International Studies would like to congratulate Dr Bastani on winning this year's prize.  

Dr Bastani is now an Assistant Professor in the Political Economy of Development within the department.

Read more about the Lisa Smirl PhD Prize